Impact of Bank Transfer Day Already Being Seen, Movement Sustains Momentum

Friday, November 04, 2011 10:50:00 AM

Already the effects of the infamous and viral Bank Transfer Day-to officially be celebrated this Saturday-are being felt throughout the credit union industry.

According to estimates released by CUNA Thursday, hundreds of thousands of consumers have rushed to credit unions over the past four weeks.

Based on the responses of a nationwide survey of 5,000 CUs, CUNA estimates that at least 650,000 consumers across the nation have joined credit unions since Sept. 29 (the day Bank of America unveiled its now-rescinded $5 monthly debit card fee). Also during that time, CUNA estimates that credit unions have added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts, likely from the new members and existing members shifting their funds.

"These results indicate that consumers are clearly making a smarter choice by moving to credit unions where, on average, they will save about $70 a year in fewer or no fees, lower rates on loans and higher return on savings," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney in a release. More information on this survey is available here.

According to another survey released this week, The Harris Poll, CUs far exceed banks in consumer loyalty. CUs have a best-in-class customer retention rate with 87% saying they are extremely/very likely to continue as members, with the biggest U.S. banks garnering significantly less loyalty from their customers, said the poll.

Credit union members (74%) are nearly three times as likely as BofA customers (25%) to have a trustworthy relationship, and to feel valued (72% versus 24%).

Banks, of course, have taken notice to the media frenzy surrounding credit unions, and as NJCUL President/CEO Paul Gentile points out in his column to appear in today's Weekly Exchange, the only argument banks have against CUs is convenience, and it's a weak argument at that.

"Banks can talk about convenience and better tech offerings all they want. If they dig deeper they'll see that credit unions are keeping pace just fine, driven by our willingness to cooperate on branches/ATMs, and a long history of early tech adoption made possible by innovative third-party firms," Gentile says. He goes on to highlight credit union's tech savvy from online bill pay to remote deposit capture, and the convenience offered by the nationwide no-surcharge free ATM network.

As for Bank of America's reversal on their $5 debit fee, Gentile says credit unions shouldn't worry about it hindering the momentum of the Bank Transfer Day movement.

"Here at the League we monitor searches for New Jersey credit unions, and the number in October is almost 10 times what it is in a typical month," said Gentile. "It's time to capitalize. It's time to show consumers what 'Banking You Can Trust' is all about."

Check out today's Weekly Exchange to read Gentile's column in its entirety.

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